Interpreter Accused of Misusing MLB Star’s Funds for Cards

In a twist worthy of a Hollywood thriller but much to the dismay of sports fans, Ippei Mizuhara, mostly known as the linguist sidekick to two-way MLB sensation Shohei Ohtani, has found himself in hot water. The interpreter and day-to-day manager for Ohtani, Mizuhara is now embroiled in allegations that read like the itinerary of a high roller rather than the duties of a sports interpreter.

According to a meticulously detailed 37-page complaint by federal prosecutors, Mizuhara stands accused of bank fraud, a serious charge stemming from his alleged misappropriation of over $16 million from Ohtani’s bank accounts. This vast sum wasn’t squandered on lavish parties or exotic cars, but on a somewhat more niche vice—baseball cards. Yes, you read that correctly. While some folks collect stamps and others fine art, Mizuhara apparently diverted millions to acquire about 1,000 baseball cards, treating eBay and Whatnot like his personal trading card emporia under the pseudonym “Jay Min.”

The scale and specifics of Mizuhara’s collecting habits are mind-boggling. Spending an average of $325 per card, these weren’t your garden-variety bubble gum pack fillers. Transactions were seamlessly conducted between January of this year and last month, some even quaintly shipped to Mizuhara care of the Dodgers, a touch that Hollywood might have deemed a tad too on the nose. As if adding insult to financial injury, many of the cards, discovered in protective cases in Mizuhara’s car, featured big names like Juan Soto, Yogi Berra, and regrettably, Ohtani himself.

The ironic twist of this tale comes into sharper focus when considering Mizuhara’s other alleged expenditures—massive gambling debts. Over a short span from late 2021 to early this year, he reportedly placed about 19,000 bets totaling a staggering net loss of $40.7 million. Thankfully, none of these wagers concerned Major League Baseball games, a small mercy in a situation rife with breach of trust.

The betrayal appears rooted in the very foundation of Ohtani and Mizuhara’s association. Shortly after Ohtani stepped onto U.S. soil in 2018, brimming with talent but not fluent in English, he enlisted Mizuhara’s help in navigating the complexities of American banking. Trustingly, he never granted Mizuhara control over his financial affairs. Yet, it appears that Mizuhara exploited this trust, allegedly posing as Ohtani to authorize wire transfers, some of which purportedly floated his high-stake gambling bouts.

Mizuhara’s gambling and collecting endeavors were funded on the sly, the U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada points out, remarking on the unprecedented scale of the fraud. Cooperation from Ohtani, who has unequivocally denied any knowledge or authorization of the dodgy transactions, was key to unmasking the alleged financial improprieties. As Mizuhara prepares to face the music in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom, he’s no longer just translating language but also facing an intricate legal battle that will dissect his every move over the past few years.

The case has sent ripples through baseball and banking circles alike, underscoring the vulnerabilities athletes face when dealing with substantial financial assets in foreign lands. While the legal proceedings will reveal the complete truth in due course, for now, it serves as a harsh reminder of the perils of misplaced trust, all set against the unlikely backdrop of America’s favorite pastime and its memorabilia.


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